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February 8, 2011

Welcome to the Party – Lily Ling

Lily LingAssociate Musical Director Lily Ling makes her Soulpepper Debut with The Fantasticks. Lily has worked previously with Acting Up Stage and Studio 180, as well as productions for the University of Toronto. Last year Lily was an Intern Musical Director for Shaw’s 2010 Season, and she will serve as Musical Director for Luminato’s Tout Comme Elle later this year.

I walked into the Baillie West rehearsal hall on the first day of rehearsal completely petrified. I felt like I had just dropped into the middle of a party that started way before I got there and I was trying to keep up. Everyone was so comfortable with each other and their jobs – like a well‐oiled machine. But within the first two days, everyone in the company had made me feel completely at home.

Watching our director Joe Ziegler, our choreographer Tim French, and our musical director Paul Sportelli work together is somewhat magical. It is so rare to see an artistic team that is so individually talented and obviously have their own points of view, but so respectful and in tune with each other – especially the way they bounce around ideas and their flexibility to change and adapt.

I remember being told The Fantasticks is the longest running musical on Broadway. I had never heard the soundtrack or played from the score. When I finally listened to the Broadway cast recording, my first reaction was that the music sounded a bit dated. But once we began rehearsals, I slowly realized why people love this musical. The range of composition is astounding. There are the sweet flowing melodies of “Try to Remember” and “They Were You.” Those are contrasted with the rhythmically driven and edgy colours of “This Plum is Too Ripe” and “I Can See It.” As a pianist, it is so satisfying to be able to play a show that has so much range and depth in its composition. But most importantly, there’s a harp! And we all know that no other instrument on earth can gliss like the harp – and there are plenty of those in the show!

It is great to work with a cast that is so well‐trained and professional but can turn everything into a joke. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much in a rehearsal hall. Oliver Dennis and Michael Simpson can get everyone laughing to the point of tears every time we run their scenes. Bill Webster and Michael Hanrahan – all I can say is they do a mean soft shoe!

It is 11:30pm on Monday night ‐ an hour after we have finished our final dress rehearsal. The show ran smoothly and everyone left in good spirit. After five weeks of rehearsals, we are ready for an audience!

Photo supplied.